On 19 May 2017, the Iranian electorate will go to the polls to choose the next president of the Islamic Republic. The poll will once again give an opportunity for Iranian society to make its views felt, and to choose from amongst a restricted but relatively diverse roster of candidates approved by the clerically-led vetting body, the Guardian Council. The elections are important on a number of levels. They provide society with the chance to approve or reject the significant developments of the last four years, from the rise of the moderate faction headed by the incumbent president, Hassan Rowhani, through to the nuclear deal signed in 2015 and its economic consequences.
They will also be an opportunity for a new conservative/rightwing figure to gain power for the first time since 2005, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad emerged as the surprise winner. The 2017 elections could also be one of the last held under the aegis of Ayatollah Khamenei, and are the first ever in the Islamic Republic in which the late regime stalwart Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will not have a significant role, either as a candidate or a main player.
King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies